OXFORD, Miss. - Gene Chizik was adamant, even defiant in the aftermath of another lost Saturday in a lost football season.
Tre Mason scores a first-quarter touchdown for Auburn/Todd Van Emst photo
He said he told his players Auburn would go home, go back to work and wouldn't change anything. There was certainly no changing what happened on Saturday at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
Ole Miss did what has become the norm, dominating Auburn in the fourth quarter.
In six games, the Tigers have not trailed by more than four points after three quarters. And in the fourth quarter, they have been outscored 62-3.
After Auburn scored 17 unanswered points to take a 17-14 lead, Ole Miss took command and never gave it up, winning the fourth quarter 17-0 and rolling to a 41-20 victory that ended a 16-game Southeastern Conference losing streak and extended Auburn's misery.
Auburn, in Gene Chizik's fourth season and just more than 21 months removed from the national championship, fell to 1-5 overall for the first time since 1998 and 0-4 in the SEC for the first time since 1980. They have lost six consecutive SEC games dating back to last season, five of them by 17 points or more. Ole Miss, in head coach Hugh Freeze's first season, improved to 4-3 and 1-2.
"Our guys played hard, and we had our chances in the fourth quarter to stay in the game," Chizik said. "But we had some very unique things happen and we couldn't get the job done. Our guys fought hard to the end. They never quit. It's a tough loss for us, but we have to get back to it next week and try to get our first SEC win.
The fourth quarter, where coaches say most games are won or lost, has been Auburn's pain throughout this season.
First-year offensive coordinator Scot Loffler said he had no good explanation, only the certainty that something must change.
"I don't know if it's an offensive issue or a defensive issue," Loeffler said. "It's a team issue right now. We have to figure out a way to win the fourth quarter. That's where the games are won, especially in this conference."
The Tigers led Clemson 19-16 in the opener on a fourth-quarter Coy Parkey field goal and lost 26-19. They trailed Mississippi State 14-10 after three quarters and lost 28-10. They led Louisiana-Monroe 28-14 after three quarters and won 31-28 in overtime. Neither team scored in the fourth quarter in a 12-10 loss to LSU. They trailed Arkansas 10-7 after three quarters and lost 24-7. And Saturday they trailed 24-20 after three quarters and lost 41-20.
Junior quarterback Clint Moseley, who started six games last season, got his first start of this season. At halftime, he had completed 8-of-8 passes for 90 yards and looked sharp doing it. In the second half, he completed 3-of-10 for 42 yards with an interception.
Tre Mason rushed 18 times for 82 yards to lead Auburn on the ground.
Ole Miss rushed for 200 yards and passed for 251 to finish with 451 yards of offense. Auburn rushed for 101 and passed for 112 for 213 yards, just 60 in the second half.
Wallace completed 17-of-22 for 226 yards and a touchdown and Scott rushed for 137 yards on 21 carries for Ole Miss.
Auburn will go to Vanderbilt on Saturday in an effort to avoid going 1-6 for the first time in 60 years.
Ole Miss jumped ahead quickly when running back Randall Mackey, a converted quarterback, hit quarterback Bo Wallace with a 25-yard touchdown pass with 7:14 left in the first quarter. With 5:39 left, center Tunde Fariyike's shotgun snap sailed over Moseley's head, 28 yards into the end zone. C.J. Johnson recovered for an Ole Miss touchdown to make it 14-0 with 5:39 left.
The second quarter was perhaps Auburn's best of the season. Tre Mason scored touchdowns on runs of 1 and 6 yards and Parkey kicked a 46-yard field goal to give the Tigers a 17-14 lead with one minute left. But Ole Miss rushed down the field and tied it on Bryson Rose's 28-yard field goal.
Ole Miss drove 73 yards in four plays with the second-half kickoff to take a 24-17 lead on Wallace's 1-yard run. Auburn got a 31-yard Parkey field goal to make it 24-20 with 4:38 left in the third quarter.
But the fourth quarter belonged to Ole Miss.
Rose kicked a 39-yard field goal and Jeff Scott did his best Mike Dyer impression, rolling over linebacker Ashton Richardson after catching a pass from Wallace and going 55 yards for a touchdown. After Mike Marry picked off a Moseley pass, Wallace ran 2 yards to close it out.